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Getting Site-Specific at The Met

A group of dancers perform in The Met Breuer's Sunken Garden while accompanied by a brass band.

Members of David Dorfman Dance perform in the Sunken Garden at The Met Breuer as part of the new location's opening-day celebration. Photo by Stephanie Berger

The Met Breuer has been open just one week, and already several site-specific works have animated the iconic building on Madison Avenue at 75th Street. On the opening day, March 18, David Dorfman Dance led the way with an inspired performance created for the outdoor Sunken Garden. A buoyant work, the dancers commanded the space with arresting lifts that were creatively crafted using the building itself as support. Dorfman's choreography and the music by Ken Thomson and Friends was completely captivating, and offered a satisfying and unexpected intimacy—no small feat for such a large opening-day celebration. Audiences lined the Garden, windows, sidewalks—wherever there was a view—for each of the day's six performances.

It is easy to romanticize The Met Breuer as an ideal location for site-specific live arts. The building boasts subtle details that continue to unfold and further reveal themselves, visit after visit. To see live arts staged with such beauty and nuance is an exciting sign of what's to come in future seasons.

A male dancer supports a female dancer while performing in The Met Breuer's Sunken Garden

Photo by Stephanie Berger

This Friday and Saturday, March 25 and 26, MetLiveArts offers another site-specific performance that requires a dialogue between performers, music, audience, and location: the U.S. premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen's KLANG, in its entirety. In each of The Met's three locations, this massive staging features a roster of musicians performing KLANG, a 21-part electronic and acoustic composition, in spaces that have been selected to enhance and respect the intentions of this masterpiece.

The electronic compositions will transform The Met Breuer's Floor 5 Gallery for the two days. The longer sections of KLANG, scored for different combinations of instruements such as piano, harps, and even a titanic custom-crafted door, will be staged in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at The Met Fifth Avenue—maintaining the controlled atmosphere of a traditional theater—in addition to other select performances that will occur in gallery spaces throughout the building. The exquisite chapels of The Met Cloisters will set the scene for the pieces written for smaller chamber-sized ensembles, giving audiences a meditative musical experience.

A percussionist jumps into the air to strike a large metal door with two hammers

Stuart Gerber performs the "Himmelstür" (Heaven's Door) movement of KLANG at the Rossini Theater in Lugo, Italy. Gerber, who was Stockhausen's percussionist for the last several years of the composer's life, will perform "Himmelstür" at The Met Fifth Avenue on March 25 and 26. Photo by Alan Taquet

Through these performances, MetLiveArts is exploring the connection between the three buildings, The Met's galleries and collection in dialogue with live performance art, and the impressive diversity of one single composition.

View the complete schedule and program.

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